Hawks Confident They Can Avenge 2017 Loss in Fifth Straight Meeting with Brock
WALL, TX-- The Wall Hawks take on the Brock Eagles this week for an astounding fifth straight year with the same major implications as the previous four.
The Wall versus Brock football matchups have become some of the most anticipated games in not only West Texas, but the entire Texas football community. Wall is coming into this game as an underdog, but, with the regularity of these two teams squaring off, anything can happen.
"I think if you look at Brock as a whole and Wall as a whole as far as communities go we match up in a lot of things. We match up at basketball, baseball, and track, so you can't help to feel the tension. It's a good thing to have someone out there that you look forward to play," head coach Houston Guy said of the rivalry. "You mark your calender because you know that you will see them week three of the playoffs. When our district and our realignment came out, I had a hunch that we would be here. So, we circled it on our calender for week three."
Wall and Brock have faced each other for the past four years, but the Hawks have only beaten them once. They beat them in Shotwell in 2016 in a game where Wall gave up zero points in the second half.
The one thing that Coach Guy pointed out was the most crucial similarity between his current squad and the 2016 team: senior leadership.
"The senior leadership with these guys is great," Guy said. "They've been tested all year long. There was six or seven games that came down to the last play, and a couple we came up short early. As you see the season progress and you see the leadership and the ability of these kids to take over, and to see them grow. In the last four ball games we've came out ahead and I think it's a testament to our seniors."
If you play the same team at the same place on the same day every year, the real question would have to be what is expected to be different about these teams.
"I think that each year is a little bit different," Guy continued. "Each year people are going to have new kids and have different areas were they think they're stronger in some years and stronger in other areas in another. I don't think this year will be a whole lot different as far as the atmosphere that were going to be playing in, and the intensity of the kids those will be like they always have been. I think its going to be a great night for a football game."
Last year, the Hawks' regular season was a cake walk. They outscored opponents 515-78 in 2017. With that disparaging gap, the Hawks' starters didn't get a full game of reps until that Brock game. That meant the Hawks' head coach wanted to make sure his guys were battle tested this year.
"We played some teams [last year] that I thought -- district-wise especially -- that our starters didn't have to play past the first half," Guy recalled. "[We were] going four or five weeks in a row before you play. It showed in the Jim Ned game last year in the playoffs, where you start to see some of the problems we had like how well they moved the ball on us and how we struggled to move the ball on them. We fixed it at halftime, but you could see the cracks and some of the problems we had last year and it was very evident in that Brock game.
"We've been in some absolute wars and in the last couple of years we didn't have to play anybody tough until you got to Brock. So, I think that was a disadvantage to us at times. These guys have been battle tested with teams that have been very formidable that is going to help itself."
Brock has been to the state championship twice in the past four years, once in 2015 and again last year. For the past four years, Brock has been considered the favorite of the region. Thus showing the implications of this game.
"If you can knock them off, I think you have a good shot beating Shallowater or Eastland," Guy added. "The match up between us is going to be kind of a gage of how the region will finish. If we beat Brock, we believe that we can beat one of those teams in the regional championship game."
To get to the regional final, Wall's defense will have to play undoubtedly their best game. Brock returns 15 starters from the team that bounced a dominant Hawks team out of the playoffs in the same round last year. They held the Hawks scoreless in the second half while scoring 22 points for a 29-10 win.
"Defense is pretty much what we've leaned on all year long," Guy said. "Our defense is going to have to play lights out Friday night. They have a very potent offense and they are going to try and impose their will by running the football. So defensively we do need to get some stops."
The leader of the Hawks defense is defensive end Gage Weishuhn. He leads the team with 67 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss.
"We just need to keep doing what we've been doing against run heavy offense which is fill our holes, and play as hard as we can," Weishuhn said on how Wall is preparing this week.
This year, the Hawks are different because of how much they've thrown the ball with junior QB Mason Fuchs. This year he's thrown for over 1,000 yards while rushing for a team-second 645 yards and 13 touchdowns. That aerial attack could free up the Hawks ground game, unlike 2017.
"We still have some things to work out," Fuchs said. "Fix for what they do on defense and prepare for what they're going to do on offense, but by the time Friday comes around we'll be ready. I think that throwing the ball may open it up for us a little bit inside, but we need to stay true to what we do and really hurt them with our run."
Wall bled the clock against Bushland thanks to their potent rushing attack. That's a big key to keeping Brock off the field.
Wall and Brock are set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff from Abilene's Shotwell Stadium this Friday.
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